UTEP Scouting Report: Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball
The Kansas Jayhawks are hot. They have won six of their last seven games, including a huge 71-58 victory over previously unbeaten Baylor last weekend. Although they started out slow, head coach Bill Self has a team that has won 18 games and lost 8 as they head into their final regular season game with the UTEP Miners. The Jayhawks are ranked 13th in the AP Poll and 14th in the Coach's Poll and they will be the biggest test this season for head coach Rodney Terry and his Miners. Despite a non-conference schedule that included Saint Mary's, Arizona, and Arizona State, none of those three teams are currently ranked in the Top 25 or are receiving votes. Unless one of those teams gets hot next week and wins their conference tournament, they will not be part of March Madness. Kansas is a different story, since ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently has them as a 4-seed in his latest Bracketology.
Kansas head coach Bill Self is a legend and he is already in the Naismith Hall of Fame (Class of 2017). In 18 seasons at Kansas, Self has 519 wins, and over his 28 years coaching Division 1 college basketball, his record is a ridiculous 726-222. That's a win percentage of .766. This season is supposedly an off-season for Self, since his team was just 11-6 heading into February. However, their defense got better and better and they knocked off Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor do catapult them back into the Top 15 in both polls.
Offensively, it starts with 6'10 junior forward David McCormack. The Jayhawks love to work the ball inside to their big man and the guards feed off of him. He plays just over 22 minutes per game, but McCormack averages 13 points and 6.1 rebounds on 51.3% shooting (leads the Big 12). Fellow big man 6'8 Jalen Wilson is a redshirt freshman, but he is scoring 12.8 points per game and pulling down a team leading 8.3 boards per contest. McCormack and Wilson will be a handful for UTEP, and it will be interesting to see if Coach Terry plays a zone tonight to keep Bryson Williams, Tydus Verhoeven, and Efe Odigie out of foul trouble as they try and contain the Kansas post players.
6'5 junior guard Ochai Agbaji is the best 2021 NBA Draft prospect on the team. He is widely considered a top 30 overall player in college basketball, and he is averaging 13.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg. Agbaji is a 3-point threat, and he has drained three or more from downtown 13 times this season. 6'5 senior guard Marcus Garrett began the season on most national player of the year watch lists. He does not turn the ball over much and his stat line reads 10.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 3.7 apg. He is terrific on defense and was named the 2020 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Rounding out the guards is 6'6 sophomore Christian Braun who is averaging 10.3 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He is second on the team with 49 3-point field goals made.
Defense is the calling card for Coach Self and his team. Kansas currently leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (40.5%) and rebound margin (4.4). UTEP has won their last four games, and they are averaging nearly 75 points per game during their win streak. However, they will have their work cut out for them tonight against the Kansas D.